Human progress is the result of successive discoveries that the many things which have been called real are only apparent, the many declared to be true are only a seeming. From the time when, as a crawling child, he tries to pick the sunshine on the carpet, the life of the average mortal is, or should he, a continuous process of disillusionment, that ceaseless unlearning which all our educational schemes are designed simply to hasten.

Every one will recall the unnumbered surprises of his childhood and youth in this line, and the ofttimes discouraging discoveries of his maturer years, as one by one ideas thought to be firm and substantial as the hills have proved to be but the figments of human belief. It brings no pleasure to find that one has been fooled or deceived in any way, though it may ultimately yield us great gain. The experience often entails that biting sense of humiliation which tends to convert a wholesome caution into a prevailing distrust. It brings sadness, too, a lasting and poignant regret at thought of wasted time, effort, and opportunities,—of all that might have been, had we known.

Nevertheless, be they ever so painful, it is clear that these awakenings are absolutely essential to intellectual and spiritual advance. "Content with the seeming" means not only torpidity and unprogressiveness, it means mental degradation and death, and it is this fact that so intensifies the pitiful significance of prejudice. Let a man become so wedded to an undemonstrated theory, an unverified opinion, as to be quite satisfied with what he thinks and is, and his descent into the ways of the dogmatist and reactionary is made sure. He closes the door not only to his own larger and freer future, but to that of all those he may dominate.

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February 22, 1908

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